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Is the Golden Rule Really a Rule?


If it is a rule, a law, a basic instruction of all the great religions that have influenced our cultures, why is our world full of meanness, hate and vicious discourse? And why and how did religions, each distinctive, build their beliefs and practices on the same basic principle of loving and serving others?

There is a template for the practice of the Golden Rule in nature, but we have gone astray. We have lost the deep awareness we once had that we are an integral part of the vast system of nature and that we are subject to her laws. Nature’s basic rule is unity among us—love and respect, altruism, harmony, interdependence and interconnection.

The Golden Rule, in essence, asks us to see the true uniqueness of each person and to connect with others to serve society. It is when societies embrace this principle that they shine. Nature invites us to take a spiritual trip, climbing the internal mountains within our souls to a higher place, where we can set our eyes on the balance and harmony that we crave.

Humankind’s Disturbance of Nature

Mankind appeared on the earth only after the environment that nurtures and sustains us was prepared. Three levels of existence preceded us—inanimate, vegetative, and animal, in that order. Each succeeding level has within it all that existed in the lower levels, and each succeeding level as a bit more developed that the one before in order to support further evolution into the next.

We arrived in this lush and supportive environment with one characteristic found nowhere else in nature—ego. We humans have used ego—fulfilling all our desires for survival and comfort—to build societies, from clans to a global connection. We now have more than we need and there really isn’t much else to invent except improvements upon what we already have. So what happens to the ego?

Ego is a force, so it still exists, and because we no longer need it for improving our lot, its fearsome energy has to be expressed somehow. The bloated collective human ego now ravenously seeks where and how we can acquire more material things in order to sate our every desire. It is so voracious that it rides rough-shod over anyone or anything that gets in its way, with no concern for the common good.


Nowhere in nature, with the exception of humans, is there any entity that takes more than it needs for survival from the system. When humans arrived on the planet, things began to change. Ego took control, propelling us toward seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, extracting more and more from the earth and from each other. We find ourselves in a dreadful state—disconnection, conflict, hate, xenophobia, war-mongering—and we are at a loss as to how to save ourselves.

The ego detests the Golden Rule because in the practice of it, we sometimes have to decide not to fulfill a certain desire, or to figure out an action that enriches the entire system as well as ourselves. Ego’s very existence is threatened by the practice of loving one another.

How to Work With, not Against, Nature

Everything in the universe is a combination or unity of opposites. For example, electricity is characterized by a negative and positive charge and atoms consist of protons and electrons which are unified but are ultimately contradictory forces. This is made possible by the mutual resistance between these two forces. The tungsten in a light bulb creates the resistor to allow the creation of something new, a device that will bring light to a dark room. The need for and function of the resistor is a rule of nature.

There are only two forces in the universe, reception and bestowal. When we have a desire, our natural instinct—called the will to receive—rises inside. Ego pushes us to take immediate action with no scrutiny of the possible consequences for others. When we act egoistically, we defy the balance of nature by not seeking the resistor that will bring into our consciousness reception’s opposite—called the will to bestow.

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And what and where is this resistor? It is nature itself, the embodiment of an Upper Force that lays out the pattern of the correct mechanisms of nature—interdependence, balance, altruism, harmony, interconnection—against which we measure ourselves. To find it, we must go above, so to speak, to that higher place inside from which we perceive the connected reality of the universe—the Upper Force that is the resistor between the person and his ego. From that vantage point we see clearly and feel deeply the exquisite balance of nature and the imperative to maintain it. So we act only if others also receive the blessing we desire.

Growing the Golden Rule as Our Internal Modus Operandi

The Golden Rule is not inborn. The will to receive is. So we must build a “structure” inside that becomes the place out of which we relate to each other. We begin by simply deciding that we will never do to another what we would hate being done to us. This means that when a desire arises, the first thing we do is to ask ourselves if the fulfilling of it would hurt another. If the answer is yes, we either do not perform that action or we figure out how to include the other in the benefit to be received.

It is the use of the heart and of the mind. The heart wants fulfillment, the mind sets the intention for how we choose to be sated. Habit becomes second nature. Doing this over and over profoundly changes how we view society. We begin see and feel the satisfaction and positive results from caring for others and are able to segue easily into the full practice of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

We attain a deep, internal recognition that the level of nature that is humanity must care for each other and for all of nature, because nature itself is the resistor, the measuring stick, of our alignment with the Upper Force.

This is demanding work, my friends, because when you begin to act in this way, the ego pushes back more forcefully, requiring more effort to quiet the will to receive in order to add the will to bestow. To do this work requires that you believe it is worth-while and that, ultimately, when mankind learns this, we will have peace on earth. Truly.

Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell


Jocelyne Steeves on November 16, 2018:

You summarize the issue so well: "We attain a deep, internal recognition that the level of nature that is humanity must care for each other and for all of nature, because nature itself is the resistor, the measuring stick, of our alignment with the Upper Force."

Edward Ponderer on November 14, 2018:

Humanity has failed Nature, worse, itself. Thank you for offering such a hopeful interpretation of the situation, and such a promising path.

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